A new study published in a journal ‘Nature’ has shown that baby sea turtles are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of plastics pollution.
The new study found around half of the recently hatched reptiles had stomachs full of plastic.
In their research, a team led by Dr Britta Denise Hardesty from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) examined data from nearly 1,000 dead turtles to understand the role plastic played in their deaths.
They found that the youngest turtles appeared to be most susceptible to plastic pollution.
According to the report, over half of the post-hatchling individuals had ingested plastic, and around a quarter of the slightly older juveniles were affected, compared to around 15 per cent of adults.
While the number of plastic pieces in the reptiles’ guts varied wildly from one to over 300, the scientists were able to deduce that turtles have a 50 per cent probability of death after consuming 14 pieces.
In recent years, scientists have realised that animals ranging from plankton to whales are regularly consuming plastic, since around 10 million tons of it ends up in the sea every year.
Despite the attention this problem has received, there is still very little known about the overall effect plastic is having on ocean animals.